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Thanks to movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther, we are increasingly seeing more attention being paid to the soundtracks in Marvel movies. With the franchise's latest entry, Captain Marvel, set in the 1990s, that provided an opportunity for the film to incorporate a bunch of classic songs to evoke that decade, and the film did just that. But Captain Marvel originally featured more music, as the film’s editor Debbie Berman explained:
I think almost every single scene originally featured a different song! It’s part of the process to try a variety of options, and see what was true to the era, but also what resonates the most in that moment -- be it emotionally, tonally or comedically. It’s through a lot of trial and error, and it took us, as a team, quite a while to get to the place where it ultimately landed, but I feel really happy with the end result.
With an entire musical era to pull from, the filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, and editor Debbie Berman, tried way more songs out than ultimately ended up in the final cut. You might think that some of the more obvious choices were decided on from the start, but it sounds like almost every scene went through a change in song choice during the editing process.
So there are whole musically different versions of Captain Marvel that existed at one point before things were switched up. As far as why different songs were cut or replaced, Debbie Berman said that they wanted to evoke the era and add to the feel of Captain Marvel as a 9'0s film, but the songs also had to inform the story and what a particular scene was going for, be it establishing tone, conveying an emotion or adding comedic effect.
This also shows what a daunting task the filmmakers and Debbie Berman faced when editing this film together. The embarrassment of riches of '90s music must have been both a blessing and curse. There are so many great songs to choose from, but the songs couldn’t just be someone’s Spotify playlist of favorite '90s songs, no matter how tempting it was, because they had to work for Carol’s story and the intent of the film.
As Debbie Berman told ET, that meant a lot of trial and error to see how each and every option worked. That was quite the time consuming process and I imagine some favorite songs had to get nixed along the way. One song might work on one level, but not on another. Or it might fit better somewhere else or not fit with the adjacent scenes. Even song choices that seemed perfect could get axed when they tried another song that was even better.
It sounds like an arduous endeavor, but hey, at least they got to listen to a bunch of great '90s music along the way. However, Captain Marvel was missing an epic theme and I'd argue some of the song choices were a bit on the nose, but it sounds like the music really resonated with people, or at least made audiences want to hear more.
According to Billboard, the 13 songs featured in the film saw a 464% gain in sales in the U.S. from March 7-10, Captain Marvel’s opening weekend. Songs like Hole’s “Celebrity Skin,” Nirvana’s “Come As You Are,” and No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” all saw jumps in sales coinciding with the film’s release.